I read an article recently in On Milwaukee Magazine about one of the Cream City's newest bands, Heartthrob. Let me first start off by saying, I rarely read anything interesting in On Milwaukee magazine. The music articles specifically are littered with stories about has-beens, bagpipe players and just mediocre bands...the worst kind. But recently, writer Jason McDowell (my man) has been introducing bands to what I'm guessing are mainly the over-the-hill, white, suburbanites that make up the magazine's readership. I enjoyed the few articles I've read by him. McDowell started the article reminiscing about a particular show on June 22nd where Heartthrob played an opening slot for Sat. Nite Duets and the Delphines. I wish I would've written about it too. Cuz it owned. In the interview, guitarist Abler commented on the show, "We harnessed the full moon's power that night. There was definitely something magic in the air."
I, like McDowell, was so pleasantly surprised by their performance, I've made it a point to catch Heartthrob at almost every show they've played since. The only thing I've found disappointing about the band is that after that June show, I raced home to listen to their online jams...only to find two very lackluster recordings. So Bonnie's been going to Heartthrob shows just to hear the songs she can't hear on her hip little mac computer. How antique...
I saw on their Facebook page that they would be playing WMSE's Local Live program. I thought to myself, "omg." I can write a review on a recording that I know will do them justice...a live one. I drank a few Lakefronts and tuned in at 7:55 not wanting to miss their 8:00 performance. This review covers the whole sesh, interview and all. I would do a track by track, but I don't know their song titles...
No lie. From that first wailing wall of feedback, pure shivers. Heartthrob's shoegazey, reverb-drenched pop music is utterly irresistable. Scott Anderson's effeminate wailing perfectly fits within the thick texture of noisy guitars and bare bones backing arrangement. Melodies, friends. Fucking songs! I'm wet. Ash Goodwin's syncopated drumming, Alicia Shatley's basic throbbing bass and new addition Christian Abler's second guitar filling in the holes create a dense wall of absolutely beautiful noise. I was headbanging alone throughout their six songs, feeling only a little lame.
The interviews on WMSE are usually absolute torture but Heartthrob did their short introduction and Q and As without a single awkward pause. For a relatively new band, I was incredibly impressed by how professionally they handled what can often be a painful-to-listen-to, boring inside joke fest (there was something about a secret handshake but it was over and done with in a matter of seconds).
The second set surpassed even the first, blasting through another three songs. Their mixture of both the upbeat and melancholy combined with unadorned, relatioship-themed lyrics are the perfect blend of...shit, I don't know, perfect. The last song's long instrumental rave-up was mouth-watering. Yes, it's me Bonnie. I trash on even stuff I like...but I love this. I absolutely love it.
Heartthrob, do me a favor. Don't over think your first release. Just put this performance on something: cd, cassette, vinyl. This has been what I've been trekking out to shows for. My legs are a little tired. Save me a couple trips to Bremen or to Riverwest Public House and get your live show out on the internet for everyone to hear what the mutherfucking buzz is about.
-Bonnie No How